BOSTON (AP) – Boston College still has a chance to save its season, and coach Tom O’Brien thinks Matt Ryan is the guy to do it.

Ryan will start at quarterback for Boston College against North Carolina State on Saturday night, a change that became necessary when Quinton Porter struggled to regain the success he had before an ankle injury. Ryan has already played in seven games this year, including the Oct. 15 game against Wake Forest when he came off the bench to lead the team a last-minute victory.

“When Matt’s had the opportunity, he’s made things happen,” O’Brien said before practice on Wednesday. “Hopefully, we’ll just get a little spark.”

The Eagles (6-3, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) have lost consecutive games to fall out of The Associated Press Top 25 and out of contention for the league championship.

While still eligible for a bowl – for a school-record consecutive year – their hopes of going to a top-tier game have disappeared.

“We may be bowl-eligible. But if we don’t win another game we’re not going to a bowl,” linebacker Ray Henderson said. “Six and five? I don’t know what bowl is going to come ask us to play if we’re 6-5.”

Ryan played four games last season – including the Continental Tire Bowl – and started twice this year when Porter hurt his right ankle. But Ryan really made his case against Wake Forest, when he came into the game with 31/2 minutes left and brought BC back from a 30-21 deficit.

“The experience I’ve had in the past has helped me to be successful,” he said. “I’m very excited for the opportunity.”

Porter was 16-for-26 for 144 yards in Saturday’s 16-14 loss to North Carolina before Ryan came on in the fourth quarter and threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Larry Lester in the final minute to make it closer.

“He’s proved it on the field, which is where you get the respect,” said center Patrick Ross, who noticed a change in Ryan since last year. “He’s a lot different player now. I think he’s confident in himself and you can see it. I just think he has more confidence in his own ability now.”

A senior, Porter may have played his last game.

“I kind of saw it coming,” he said. “I never really got back clicking like I was before that.”

AP-ES-11-09-05 1707EST


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